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ADE wants everyone to feel good in their skin

 ADE and Jim Swim on stage at xBk during the taping for Juneteenth: The Movement. The broadcast premieres on air and online on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m.
Madeleine C King
ADE and Jim Swim on stage at xBk during the taping for Juneteenth: The Movement. The broadcast premieres on air and online on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m.

The multi-instrumentalist and collaborator performed with Jim Swim for "Juneteenth: The Movement 2022" and debuted a new song called "Love Myself" about his journey to feeling comfortable in his skin.

Bayo Ajose will have you both feeling yourself and feeling your feelings at the same time. The talented singer/songwriter, rapper and multi-instrumentalist combines catchy beats and infectious lyrics to paint a picture of what it means to truly embrace self. Goodluck trying to define his sound. Bayo, stage name ADE, works to be the ultimate collaborator. He wants to challenge the idea of being pigeonholed into just one genre, and in doing so ushers in a new wave of talent that’s nothing less than refreshing.

When he’s not creating addictive songs that give you no choice but to bop your head, he works as a senior quality engineer for Collins Aerospace. The University of Iowa graduate keeps himself very busy fulfilling multiple dreams fueled by varying but intertwined passions. I spoke with him about his music in preview of the premiere of the broadcast special “Juneteenth: The Movement,” which premieres Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m.

How would you describe your sound?

“Oh, gosh, that’s a hard question right off the bat. I think when people ask me about my music, I think my goal in music is to be the ultimate collaborator. I don't like just one sound. Being able to fit myself into a bunch of different categories has been really cool for me. Collaborating is my favorite thing to do. I like how people can kind of hear sounds and melodies come together. There's a lot of discussion, back and forth, that leads to a melody that we both feel is super strong or catchy or exudes the emotion that we're trying to bring out at that point in time. Because of that, I don't think I have a specific sound. It kind of just depends on the day. My sound is miscellaneous, I guess. It's hard to pinpoint.”

How do you feel you've grown from your first single? 

“I think there's a number of things that I’m just continually growing in. I am my biggest critic. I write something good, and I think I'll never write something like that again. I get so discouraged, like I'm not gonna touch my pen for another month or so. Then, I write something good again, but I always just go back to thinking that’s the best I’ll ever do.

It sucks because whether you like it or not, for artists numbers are important. My most recent song 'Love Myself' is one of my favorite songs I've ever written. I don't even think it has 1,000 streams. One of the reasons it took me so long to even put it out there was because I put so much time and energy into it. When I release it, everything becomes real. I have to pray that it blows up. And It didn't, but it could still happen. It takes time. I'm gonna continue making music, but sometimes you always have that back to the drawing board moment, which isn't fun all the time. You know, I’m putting music out into the world, and I think that in itself is a cool thing that a lot of people don't get to do.”

What does your writing process look like?

“It depends. I think a lot of folks consider writing to be just like putting words down, but melody creation is also a part of it. There’s also a producing aspect. It takes the most amount of my energy to be able to say what I want to say, but melody writing just pops into my head. I have a very Pop brain. I'm always trying to figure out what melody I can see other folks singing along to. Sometimes my writing process is just finding the right chords. Then it’s like, I like these chords, what are the melodies that are gonna work with it. Sometimes I write a melody and I figure out the chords later. There's only been one time where I came up with the lyrics first. Overall, I've come up with some super dope songs that I thoroughly enjoy, and it's been cool to see other folks also enjoy them.”

How do you balance both a career as an engineer and professional musician?

“I think the only reason I'm doing something outside of music is due to the fact that music is competitive. I'm not one to put all my eggs in one basket. So, I'm gonna do this music stuff, and I’m gonna push as hard as I can, but I think there's a level of, some people call it realism. Some people call it pessimism. It’s like a plan A and plan B. I need to continue working them up. So, if one of them doesn't work, I'm still successful in some capacity.

I’m trying to get to the point where I can make a living off my music. That would be the dream.”

How do you manage your workload and avoid burnout?

“Oh, I burn out. I'm blessed that I work from home right now, and because of that, I feel like I don't feel the burnout as quickly as I once did. I also try to do other things like box and lift to keep myself active. Right now, I'm reading books on songwriting and trying to understand what I can do to create a stronger foundation, so that whenever it comes to writing sessions with other folks, or even writing for other folks, I'm able to do that a lot quicker. I'm a perfectionist, so sometimes I write all this stuff down, and I’m like that's not it. Then I crumble it up and start over. I’m trying to be more pragmatic and attack things as both an engineer and as a creative.”

What do you hope to inspire with your music?

“I just want to make solid music. Message wise, though... I mean, I write songs about hope and about real life. One of my songs talks about how I'm getting older, and how I really just miss being younger and not having any responsibilities. It's not a hopeful or necessarily happy song, but it's a real song.

'Love Myself' is about being a Black man in an all-white school all my life. I talk about the micro-aggressions and all that stuff that I had to deal with and how it affected me and led to self hate. I also go into my journey of loving my Blackness. I am dope. I'm a catch. If they don’t see it, that’s on them.”

Carrie Lawal
Contributing writer